A patient's medical history is one of the most important tools a doctor can have. More than 300 Americans have chosen a new way to make their information available in a heartbeat.
Medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay visited The Early Show to discuss Verichip, a new way to ensure that your doctor will always have your medical information.
Verichip is a small electronic chip, the size of a piece of rice, that gets injected into your upper arm.
Hospital personnel can run a scanner over the embedded Verichip and, by using an ID number in the chip, they can see your medical history instantly. They can also see what medications you are taking, dosages, allergies, blood type, the name of your doctor, and any medical procedures you've undergone.
Dr. Joseph Feldman, head of the Emergency Department at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, believes that patients with the greatest needs are the ones the chip will help the most. "Our sickest patients are usually unconscious or have altered mental status or are unable to communicate because they're in too much pain or anxiety," he said.
The Verichip uses the same technology that lets motorists pay tolls without stopping, as well as the same chip that helps control inventory at retail stores.
Some people are concerned that Verichip could be an invasion of privacy. Privacy expert Marc Rotenberg worries that scanners at retail stores and toll booths will also have the power to read the chips in patients' arms.
"They do literally broadcast your identity," he said. "It's a bit like having your Social Security number being transmitted from your body."
But Verichip patient Molly Minicucci Phillips isn't concerned about the privacy issue. "I have credit cards. I have EZ-Pass. I have all that," she said. "They probably could get more through that than from the Verichip."